Pros and Cons: Bill Richardson as Obama’s Running Mate

May 23 2008 Published by under Featured News

As Barack Obama and John McCain formerly begin their searches for running mates, over the next few weeks we will be profiling the potential candidates for the VP slots. First up is current New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson.

Resume: Bill Richardson is the current governor of New Mexico. He also was a candidate for the Democratic nomination in 2008. Richardson has had a wide and varied career in public service. Richardson spent 14 years in the House of Representatives where he focused mostly on foreign policy issues. From 1997-1998 he served as U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. In 1998, President Clinton appointed him Secretary of Energy. He stayed in this position for the remainder of the Clinton administration. Richardson was elected governor of New Mexico in 2002 by a 17 point margin, 56%-39%. He won reelection in 2006 by an even bigger margin 68%-32%.

Richardson’s use of diplomacy has earned him five Nobel Peace Prize
nominations. Richardson has negotiated the release of hostages in North Korea, Iraq, Cuba, Sudan. He has made six diplomatic missions to North Korea. He was a key negotiator of the original deal with N. Korea on their nuclear program. His most recent diplomatic effort was the negotiation with N. Korea for the remains of six U.S. Korean War casualties.

Pros for picking Richardson : Foreign policy is a weakness on Obama’s resume that John McCain has already been looking to exploit. The addition of Richardson would shore up the ticket against some of those foreign policy questions. If Obama truly wants to bring change, Richardson’s focus on diplomacy would represent a complete break with the policies of the Bush years. Obama has also struggled mightily with Latino voters, and Richardson would certainly help in that area too.

Cons for picking Richardson : Bill Richardson’s popularity has plummeted in New Mexico. An April Survey USA poll found that Richardson’s approval rating in the state was 53%. This is a 21% drop from the previous year. Richardson enjoys a 74% approval rating with blacks, a 58% approval rating with Hispanics, and only a 45% approval rating with white voters. He has only a 52% approval rating with Independents and 50% with moderates.

The selecting of Richardson might send white blue collar voters running into McCain’s arms. In many ways, Richardson is having the same problem in New Mexico that Barack Obama is having nationally. Richardson struggles with white voters in his state. Richardson also isn’t all that effective on the stump, and for all his foreign policy experience, his knowledge of domestic policy is very limited.

Odds of Obama selecting Richardson : Unless the Obama campaign thinks that they can win the White House with a coalition of young whites, black, and Hispanic voters, selecting Richardson probably isn’t the best idea. Should Obama win the general election, one could easily see Bill Richardson as Secretary of State in an Obama administration. Richardson would be a groundbreaking choice, but would not provide the most appealing ticket for voters in November.

The Choice-O-Meter Says:
OOOOO (5 O’s out of 10 for Bill Richardson)

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